Esophagitis - Topic Overview
What is esophagitis?
irritation or inflammation of the
esophagus . The esophagus is the tube that carries food
from your throat to your stomach.
Esophagitis can be painful and can make it hard to
What causes esophagitis?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is the most common cause of esophagitis. When
you have GERD, stomach acid and juices flow backward into your esophagus. This
can irritate the esophagus.
Other causes include:
- A hiatal hernia.
- Medicines that irritate the esophagus, such as:
- Vitamin and mineral supplements, such as
vitamin C, iron, and potassium pills.
- Infection. People who have a
weak immune system are more likely to get esophagitis.
This includes people with
diabetes, or kidney problems, as well as older adults
and people who take
- Radiation therapy.
- Certain diseases that
make it hard to swallow, such as
- Allergies, often food allergies, especially to
seafood, milk, nuts, soy, or eggs.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms of
- Pain when you
- Trouble swallowing food or liquids.
- Chest pain
(may be similar to the pain of a
- A cough.
Sometimes it also causes:
- Nausea or
- Belly pain.
How is esophagitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask
about your symptoms and past health. He or she may do tests such as:
endoscopy. During this test, the doctor puts a thin,
flexible tube down your throat to look at your esophagus. This test also lets
the doctor get a sample of the cells to test for infection. Sometimes a small
piece of tissue is removed for a
biopsy. A biopsy is a test that checks for
inflammation or cancer cells.
- A barium swallow. This is an X-ray
of the throat and esophagus. Before the X-ray, you will drink a chalky liquid
called barium. Barium coats the inside of your esophagus so that it shows up
better on an X-ray.